Basilius Valentinus made easy by Carlo Lancillotti in a effortless chemical language from Currus Triumphalis Antimonii. Experiences on Starry Regulus.

trionfo dell'antimonio carlo lancillotti frontispieceFarmaceutica Antimoniale ovvero Trionfo dell’Antimonio, that’s to say Antimonial Pharmaceutics or the Antimony Triumph, Modena 1683. 

I will intentionally neglect the first three chapters, as they are simply a literary response to the accusations against him regarding the use of antimony in medicine from the Italian doctors who followed the Galenic pharmaceutical system. In fact, according to Galenus, the metallic antimony was a substance too much poisonous to be used in medicine. Lancillotti defends himself, in a very verbose and argumentative way, saying that the ancient Greeks knew only the speculative and not practical chemistry,  and therefore did not know how to safely open antimony to make a medicine so portentous as harmless. Lancillotti concludes that, given that the passage from medicine to Alchemy is very short, the ancient Greeks did not even know the operational alchemy. And on purpose I will start from the last chapters, those on starry regulus.

Chapter 34. Signed Star, or Starry Regulus of Mars. My verbatim translation from Italian: Take two parts of supreme antimony (1), steel or better horse spikes tips one part, these have to be melted in a crucible together with four parts of burned tartar, and throw in an iron little horn (2) or other suitable thing, after being chilled out get the regulus separated from the redundant part and reduce in powder, mix with three parts of burned tartar and get melted as above repeating the same operation three times, providing to apply a very hard fire during the last melting. Then separate a very pure starry regulus.

This regulus when sublimated with salt armoniac is called sweet sublimate, together with distilled water put in cellar over glass or marble, it will become a liquor with outstanding virtues.

Chapter 35. Wonderful Oil from the Regulus.

This regulus, or Star signed many times with the Serpete (probably a misprint for “serpent”), stony, or earthed, or  Barauce (3) because of the fire gets reduced in form, which gets consumed, and unified with the above mentioned Serpent (this time written right), and in so doing the adept achieves a totally igneous (of fire)  matter, where the utmost philosophical art is hidden, and buried, nevertheless who has ears can understand; the above mentioned matter put in a cellar becomes a liquor, which has to be distilled and then rectified till become pure and clear.

The dosage is up to three, or four, droplets. This oil can surely be taken through mouth, but with caution and not often, together with two ounces of wine, according to physician. It is good for all diseases, but after purgations.

Those who can understand how useful is to extract the essence of metals, will not ignore the virtue of this acid oil, and this is the only menstruum so much researched  and now to the son of Art revealed, those who care about their health should run to this philosophical fountain, this is the chemical kingdom great royal throne, and after Basilius they should also tremendously thank  the very learned  Kerckringer, whom we due the elucidation.

Chapter 36. Lead of Antimony.

Take the regulus given by antimony, when doing the glass, and powder it putting with equal parts of Saturn Salt into a crucible, and well closed  get the whole cemented (4) for three hours, and then melted, and the regulus will take the lead weight and get malleable, and after having been united with Mercury congealed with Saturn by melting of that material, being done subtle laminae and placed on sores and ulcers heals them. But now, reader,  here’s coming the great remedy called by our Basilius Lapis Ignis, meaning stone of fire.

trionfo antimonio lancillotti page 76Chapter 37. Lapis Ignis.

This lapis Ignis according to Valentinus is nothing but a fixed and steady antimony tincture, as he called it, and being a pure, penetrative,spiritual and fiery essence, coagulated like the salamander, which not only  doesn’t consume at fire, but gets purified and perpetuated. This lapis  has not only the virtue to remove diseases, but also to dye the Sun, Moon, Jupiter and Saturn, but not like the great lapis, which tinges forever all kind of metals, but only a part out of five of above mentioned metals and they who want to know more about that see the mentioned Basilius, where will have to be satisfied, I on my wish to go ahead following my style, that’s to say to describe only remedies with the clearness and courage that the Art allows me to do, because Basilius is what you can find best in the world, and here there is the utmost you can find in his triumphal chariot, but reduced ( both with my intelligence  and Kerckringer help), as clear as possible and without the long  discourses you can find in triumphal chariot , since I fear to have to account to God for having speak too much clear, and about that I will describe as the author did in the following way:

Take in the name of God a quantity of supreme mineral antimony, saltpeter in equal part and get all in subtle powder, and stirring little by little at moderate heat , and a dark matter will remain, of which a glass will come into being, which you will powder and extract a tincture with distilled vinegar as above mentioned, and then extract the vinegar at balneum, till a thick compound and distill on distilled water till the water will come out sweet, which thing you have to check because the water is acid at start, but when begins to be sweet hold out the distillation and put to dry at sun, and dry again then reduce in powder and again extract new tincture with rectified spirit of wine, which will be of a bright red color, and sweet, which will be very useful to medicine, and this is the real antimony sulphur and then for every  pound of that take two ounces of salt of antimony, as you has been taught above, and unify with the above mentioned extraction and get circulated for forty days as the Art teaches, and the salt will get unified with the tincture, which after being filtered the spirit of wine will be extracted, and then increase the fire increasing the fire or by retort on sand, at high fire the powder which will remain at bottom, amazing the artist, will distill with a sweet and beautiful  oil, which has to be again rectified at balneum, distilling the fourth, and you will get prepared and unified the two principles, that’s to say the Sulphur and the Salt, which is done.

Take some Quicksilver of antimony, as above taught, and for every ounce, put over three ounces of spirit of vitriol of Mars, which must be well rectified, which has wonderful virtues, as Basilius has stated.

Then take of the above mentioned oil equal parts (ana) and put into a bean (6) and hermetically seal and put to heat, the precipitated will save in the oil, and in the fire heat, coagulate again, and a dry powder will result, and a red powder will come out, dry and fixed, easily melting, and of which three or four grains in a suitable vehicle will remove every disease”.

Latin words by Basilius Valentinus celebrating the medicinal properties of this remedy follow. But all along Lancillotti lines. Instead I will translate the obscure final conclusion by Basilius:

trionfo antimonio lancillotti page 82” So I finish this treatise on antimony, of which I wrote on red oil, which from Sulphur supremely will be purified, on Spiritus which from its salt is prepared, on the lapis Ignis I wrote above, on the process on the unification you will effortless find out, since the same is even the foundation of the same system, same affinity (analogy), where health is acquired, the wine after long investigation at second hunting get caught up.

I would have something else to say about this operation that Basilius and Kerckringer have veiled, but it would be  better to let you study a little more, and if God will want to elucidate everything he can do it. That the Lord may grace you.”

You can find elucidations on further proceedings on antimony glass, oil and vinegar, and lapis Ignis at Lancillotti: Glass and Oil according to Currus Thriumphalis. Part 1.

  1. With long and bright golden color striations;
  2. Probably a cone;
  3. Lancillotti makes countless syntax errors. In addition seventeenth century italian was quite different from the modern one. “Barauce” here sounds like borace, or borax;
  4. In the book a “cimeti” is typed. Probably an error for “cimenti”, from verb cementare;
  5. Lancillotti here uses the term “anna”, probably for “enne”;
  6. Not a vegetal bean, of course, but a tool called bean;